Laurie Canter’ LIV Golf chances looked over after missing out at Q-School last December, but the Englishman was handed a two-event wildcard for 2024, and has taken advantage
Laurie Canter was one putt away from a full-season spot on the LIV Golf roster and a £1.5 million bonus, but sadly the golfing gods were not on the Englishman’s side.
Less than an hour later, Canter was back in the clubhouse following the end of LIV Golf Promotions, without a 2024 place after going on to miss his putt and lose out in a two-from-three man playoff. For any golfer, missing out at the final hurdle of Q-School is a bitter pill to swallow, but this one had even more on the line.
A full-time spot on the LIV setup is a life-changing one, with players competing for a £20 million ($25m) prize pot at each event, with no cut and the guarantee of a hefty payout regardless of their finish. For Canter he knew already, having played seven LIV Golf events in 2022, before competing in another 11 a year later as an injury replacement for Sam Horsfield as part of the Majesticks.
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His goal for 2024 was to return to the breakaway league, however his promotion heartbreak scuppered those plans. Fortunately for Canter there was some reward for his impressive Q-School performance, as it earned him one of two wildcard spots in LIV’s first two events of the season in Mexico and Las Vegas this month. And as he had done previously, the 34-year-old made the most of his recall, finishing in a tie for 15th at Mayakoba, before tying for 21st a week later in Vegas.
This came with financial reward, earning just short of £400,000 ($500k) in prize money, a healthy return for six rounds of golf. For Canter though he is already looking forward, with the hope his two wildcard showings will lead to further opportunities down the line.
Speaking to Mirror Sport fresh off the back of his week in Las Vegas, Canter said: “Everything that comes with playing in that league is awesome, so you can’t really take it for granted… To have those two opportunities early season, to go in and play and pick up some Order of Merit points was important.
“Certainly last week in Vegas I feel that if a couple of things had gone my way and I putted a little better I could have competed for the tournament. The standard of the field is so good now, it is as good a field as I have ever played in. If Dustin [Johnson] is not winning it, it is [Joaquin] Niemann or now Jon Rahm they are a crop of some of the best players in the world.
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“Last week was good from a personal perspective as I felt I was in the tournament for a lot of it.” On the back of his impressive start to 2024, Canter did reminisce about what could have been following his efforts at Q-School in December, but amid the near-miss revealed there was a warming silver lining in some of his fellow players being able to benefit from a league that had served him so well in the two previous seasons.
“Obviously it would have been nice to two-putt the first playoff hole,” he said with a laugh when looking back at a gruelling week in Abu Dhabi. “The longer I’ve played, I think disappointment hits you in different ways and comes at different times. Outside of major tournament golf, that event in terms of the opportunity it gives you is massive.
“It hurt, it was tough, but in a way I was proud of my performance and I mean this genuinely, because I played on LIV in 2022 and 2023 and realised how good it was, I did have a sense of happiness for the guys that had got it. I knew what it meant to me to have the experiences and earn the money and how it has helped with my life, so I had that sense as well for the guys who got those cards.”
The emergence of LIV Golf has not been a quiet one, the league’s motto reads ‘Golf, but louder’ and that has certainly been the case over the past two years. The breakaway circuit has been at battle with both the PGA Tour and DP World Tour, but amid all the drama Canter has emerged as somewhat of an anomaly.
Following a lengthy legal dispute, the DP World Tour earned the right to suspend and fine players for competing in LIV events whilst they themselves were hosting their own tournaments. This saw an exodus of some of the circuit’s biggest names, with the likes of Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood handing in their memberships to avoid constant punishment.
Canter too was handed an initial sanction, but after clearing his fines and serving his suspension he has since been able to compete across both tours without any further penalties. This is thanks to his player category position on the DP World Tour. Due to his lower position down the rankings, Canter has been able to play LIV events as he has not being eligible to play on the DP World Tour in the same week.
Then, when he does meet the criteria for a specific event he can return to the Wentworth-based circuit and compete as he pleases. Delving into his playing rights, he said: “In 2022 I played majority on LIV so lost my full category on the DP World Tour. Then for 2023, I was playing on limited starts after finishing 130th on the [DP World Tour rankings].
“The same then happened last year, I think I had seven or eight starts and played pretty well in them so finished about 130th again. So it is the same deal. This year I’ll have to play some of the lower ranking events, but I was fortunate to get off to a really good start in Australia and Mauritius which hopefully can help me build my way into some of the bigger events later in the year.”
With prospects on the DP World Tour once again arising, Canter’s focus on the LIV setup will have to take a back seat for now. “[The DP World Tour] will be my focus now… I am in a strange position being able to play both tours legally if you like.” He went on: “Certainly all my competitors and all the staff [at the DP World Tour] have been great with me.
“I think most people understand the position I was in and what happened. I haven’t had it all my own way, I lost my Tour card which I had worked for 10 years to get. So I feel like I’ve shown in my playing record how much the Tour has meant to me, so I am happy to be back playing.”